Wednesday, November 20, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – Governor Michael J. Dunleavy wants to set the record straight regarding the Alaska Department Natural Resources (DNR) decision to utilize grant funds to evaluate the economic impacts of a Roadless Rule exemption for the Tongass National Forest.
Here are the facts. The Alaska Division of Forestry (DOF), a division of DNR, received $2.0 million from the U.S. Forest Service in 2018. The state utilized the funding in its role as a cooperating agency in the federal rulemaking process. DOF approved a grant of up to $250,000 to the Alaska Forest Association (AFA), a non-profit trade organization representing the Alaska forest products industry, to conduct an economic analysis of the amount of timber produced under each alternative. These alternatives were developed by the Alaska Roadless Rule Citizen Advisory Committee and will be updated following the recent release of the draft alternative EIS.
The analysis by AFA will help inform the state as it prepares comments on the draft EIS and is both important and necessary to determine where harvesting may take place while using the best available industry practices. Lifting the Roadless Rule also creates new recreational opportunities in the Tongass like kayaking and hiking for Alaskans and visitors from around the world and can increase connectivity between communities in the Southeast region.
Two members of the United States Congress, Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, have requested the USDA investigate the “potential misuse of a recent U.S. Forest Service grant to the State of Alaska.”
“This is another example of cherry picking information to distort and mislead the American public and members of Congress,” said Governor Dunleavy. “I respectfully suggest Congressman Grijalva and Senator Stabenow do their homework before asking a federal agency to conduct a costly, time consuming and ultimately pointless investigation into a grant that will provide essential information about lifting the Roadless Rule. Exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule will create new jobs and economic activity in a region hard hit by the misguided policies of a previous administration.”
“As Alaskans we continually need to remind the Washington D.C. establishment that Alaska is a sovereign state. As Governor, I will continue to use our resources and assets to the benefit of all Alaskans,” said Governor Dunleavy.